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In this math lesson, learners determine and compare the rate of descent of various learnerconstructed parachutes. Learners construct parachutes that will have maximum hang times. Learners then drop their parachutes from a height of two meters and record the hang times. Using the distance formula, learners compute the rate of descent and record the data. Learners then arrange the parachutes in terms of hang time and examine the shapes for patterns. (Note: for lowmass parachutes like the ones made here, the terminal velocity is reached very quickly, so the rate of descent will be approximately constant. However, you may want to explain to your learners that in many problems related to falling, the descent rate will vary considerably with time. As a result, in most cases, the distance formula only gives the average velocity for each run.)
 Under 5 minutes
 45 to 60 minutes
 $1  $5 per group of students
 Ages 11  14
 Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan
 English
Quick Guide
Materials List (per group of students)
 Plastic trash bags
 Scissors
 Yard/Meter sticks
 String
 Paper clips or tape
 Aw Chute Data Charts
 Several stopwatches
 Class Chart
 Circular objects (Frisbee, bowl for tracing)
 Markers
Subjects

Engineering and Technology

Engineering
 Transportation Engineering

Engineering

Mathematics

Algebra
 Equations and Inequalities
 Patterns

Data Analysis and Probability
 Data Analysis
 Data Collection
 Data Representation

Measurement
 Rate

Algebra

The Nature of Technology

The Design Process
 Invention and Innovation

The Design Process

Physical Sciences

Motion and Forces
 Gravity
 Momentum and Velocity

Motion and Forces

The Nature of Science

The Scientific Process
 Conducting Investigations
 Gathering Data
 Formulating Explanations
 Communicating Results

The Scientific Process
Informal Categories
 Model Building
Audience
To use this activity, learners need to:
 see
 read
 be mobile
 touch
Learning styles supported:
 Involves teamwork and communication skills
 Involves handson or lab activities
Other
This resource is part of:
Access Rights:
 Free access
By:
Rights:
 All rights reserved, PBS, 2012
Funding Source:
 US Department of Education